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Thursday, October 31, 2013

Clay Baked Spicy Curried Goat

Though its popularity and use in North America is much less prevalent,  goat meat is the most widely consumed red meat in the world and features prominently in many cuisines. While it is making some inroads on major food retailer's shelves in Canada, it is still often only found in specialty stores or in markets.

This is a real shame, as goat is a delicious, tender meat with a distinctive flavour that has a nice hint of gaminess.

I have tried goat cooked a variety of ways, but I find that I both order it and cook it curried or West Indian style most often. It lends itself to these flavours perfectly.

Today I will share a basic recipe for Spicy Curried Goat done in a clay baker. I am using the clay baker as it is a cooking method that will produce very moist, fall-off-the-bone goat in a relatively short time, as well as making a thick and flavourful gravy as the goat cooks.

If you are not familiar with the ancient and very accessible technique of clay baking, we did an introduction to clay baking that you can take a look at on The Simple Art of Clay Baking. 

For this dish you need 2-3 lb. cubed goat meat, preferably bone-in. As always with a clay baker fill both sides with water and let stand for 15 minutes. After emptying the water out, take the goat meat and place it in the clay baker and sprinkle curry powder over it so that it covers the meat. Pour in one full bottle (350 ml.) of a Caribbean style curry cooking sauce (Grace makes one) or, if not available, the same amount of water and a tablespoon of curry paste. Add an equivalent amount of beef or chicken stock (or water and a bouillon cube as it will dissolve during cooking).

Add either 1 or 2 crushed scotch bonnet peppers (simply push on them with a spoon and then toss them in) or 1-2 tablespoons of your favourite Caribbean style hot sauce.  You can, of course, omit this, but that does change the flavour, and not for the better!

Add a small piece of crushed ginger, a half a teaspoon of browning liquid, a teaspoon of dry mustard, and a teaspoon of salt.

Again, as you always must with a clay baker, cover and place in a COLD oven. Set the heat to 400 degrees.

Cook for two hours. After the first hour, remove the baker, stir the goat and put back in.

After two hours, remove from the oven, skim off any fat, remove any undissolved ginger, add one tablespoon of flour to the liquid and stir it in gently until it is all dissolved. This will thicken the gravy. Let it sit for about 5-10 minutes and then serve!

This dish goes wonderfully with rice or rice and peas, with roti or naan style bread or with a french style bread, and with red wine.



Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Doing a fall Standing Prime Rib Roast two ways: On the BBQ or in the oven with mushroom gravy

There is something truly special about a standing Bone-In Prime Rib Roast, despite the costs associated with them. But, if you can either get them on sale or use them as a terrific substitute for the equally expensive and often far less tasty holiday turkeys or hams, they are well worth the investment.

Though only, we should note from the start, if they are cooked to a proper rare to medium rare. There is simply no point in cooking a Prime Rib Roast if you intend to cook it beyond this point of "doneness". 

Previously I blogged about how to do more "inferior" roasts using the Hi-Low heat method. This method is, in my opinion, also the perfect way to cook the royalty of roasts. Follow these instructions exactly to oven cook a fall Prime Rib with two exceptions. 

First, a Prime Rib Roast does not need the olive oil. Its delightful fat layering and marbling will take care of the moistening that the olive oil is a substitute for.

Also, it is called a "standing" rib roast for a reason. Being bone-in, the roast will come with a curved bone rack on the underside. You want to stand the roast up while cooking, bone side down, fat side up. For smaller roasts, 4 pounds or less, you might find that they fall over at some point during the cooking, but that is OK. Whether the roast falls over or not, you must never, under any circumstances, open the oven. 

When the roast is done, and has been allowed to sit as outlined, I am always partial to cutting the slices a little on the thicker side. The photo at the start shows both the size and doneness that I think makes for a perfect Prime Rib Roast. This will have a great and contrasting texture,  will be incredibly moist, and will be full of flavour.

If you want a gravy, and why wouldn't you, take the tray that you cooked the Prime Rib in and leave all the drippings in it. Add some mushrooms, place it on a medium-low burner and stir to brown them. Add salt and pepper to taste as you go. After a few minutes, add a cup of beef stock and, if you want, a little red wine, and bring to boil. Reduce the heat and let it simmer, adding a tablespoon or two of flour to let it thicken to taste, stirring this in to ensure that it fully dissolves. Simmer and blend down to your desired thickness.

Different people like very different gravies. You will find yours!  

If you want to try for something a little different, and truly spectacular, you can do the Prime Rib Roast over charcoal on the BBQ using the indirect method. This always sounds daunting, but is, in fact, rather easy once you get the hang of it (though you should not let family or friends know that!). 

This method only really works for roasts that are 3-4 lbs or less, so if you are having a few folks over, you will have to do at least two. It is also a great way to keep the grill in action during Fall.

First, after following the instructions for starting up the charcoal grill that I laid out in a previous post, instead of dumping all the charcoal in the centre, you must instead divide the hot coals into two separate piles along the side of the BBQ drum, leaving the centre without coals. This can be done with a cheap accessory fitted side tray for charcoal made by Weber and other companies, or by simply piling it!

When BBQing prime rib I suggest using a Montreal Style steak spice as you would on any steak. Coat the roast liberally on all sides with it, other than the bone-in side. As always, leave the roast to sit at room temperature for 30 minutes before cooking.

After you have the separated coals glowing a red or white hot, take the Prime Rib and put it directly over one of the piles for 5 minutes a side. You want to get grill marks and that lovely searing.

Once you have done this, put the roast in the centre of the grill, with no coals underneath. If it will stand, fine, but usually you are better off to simply rest it one side down and flip it half-way through.

You need to cook the roast a further 15 minutes per lb., again making sure to evenly spread the time out in terms of what side is cooking, to get a medium-rare. You should do this "lid on" for the most part, keeping the flue open, and taking the top off every few minutes to allow the coals to get hotter again. You will get the hang of it. 

 If you do not like the timed method, simply check the roast for "give" as you would a steak.

After done, let the roast sit for only 5 minutes, uncovered,  as opposed to the 15 for an oven roast. Again, I suggest slightly thicker slicing.

The BBQ method is incredibly flavorful and worth the effort. The Prime Rib will come out wonderfully juicy and moist, but also with a distinctive smokey charcoal grilled  taste that is impossible to acheive any other way. It is truly delicious.


The Urban Peasant Quick & Simple with Lamb & Pumpkin Stew and Stuffed Papaya

Vintage Cookbook: The Urban Peasant Quick & Simple, James Barber
Publication Details: Urban Ink, 1993

Beloved by many Canadian home cooks in the 1990's, James Barber was the host of a CBC Television cooking show, The Urban Peasant, that became something of a hit not only in Canada but in other countries as well. Barber had a very warm, friendly, accessible style that was really the antithesis of what many see as the "celebrity chef"

Barber sought to demystify cooking and to feature ingredients used in ways that anyone could handle. This was done without any fancy or unusual preparation normally, but with often surprising and always delicious results. His show was a real pleasure to watch (and likely still is, out there somewhere in syndication) and was almost relaxing, a seeming contradiction given the nervousness with which many approach cooking. It even ingrained this atmosphere in its set, which was of an open-concept living space as opposed to an impersonal professional style kitchen.

Barber died in 2007 as he had lived, cooking. His wife told the CBC "As far as we can tell, James was sitting at the dining room table, he was reading a cookbook, and he had a pot of soup simmering on the stove."

In 1993 he released one of several companion cookbooks to the series, and one of which I am particularly fond. This was his Urban Peasant Quick & Simple cookbook. As he himself put it on the back cover, this one was "completely practical" and with "no trimmings, no romance". It is almost entirely unillustrated (though the few drawings that there are are his own charming ones) and while it might at first seem a bit spare, it is also full of terrific recipe after terrific recipe, all of which are, as the title would imply, quick and simple. And there are dozens of them. It is a real resource of new ideas.

Today we are sharing, as always, two recipes, as they originally appeared. And one has the seasonally appropriate and wonderful ingredient of pumpkin.

Lamb & Pumpkin Stew Served in a Pumpkin  

1 lb/500g pumpkin, peeled, seeded and cut into cubes
1/2 lb./250 g cubed  leg of lamb
2 Tbsps olive oil
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tsp sugar
1/2 cup water
1 Tbsp chopped parsley
1 Tbsp chopped cilantro
1 tomato, chopped
1 tsp ground ginger
juice of 1/2 a lemon
1 Tbsp. sugar
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1 Tbsp ground cumin
Salt & Pepper

Heat the oil in a frypan and brown the meat. Add the onion, cayenne pepper, sugar and garlic and stir well. Add the rest of the ingredients, except the cumin, cover and simmer for 5 minutes. Pour into a hollowed out pumpkin and put in a 400F/200 C oven for 30 minutes. Garnish with cumin and some more chopped cilantro. 

Stuffed Papaya    

1 papaya
Cottage cheese
Fresh peeled shrimp
Fresh prawn tails
Freshly ground pepper

Halve the papaya and remove the seeds. Scoop out the flesh and chop. Half fill the shells with cottage cheese and arrange the chopped flesh around it. Top with a mound of fresh, peeled shrimp and decorate with a few fresh prawn tails. Grind some pepper over the top and garnish with cilantro. Serve on crushed ice.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

The Dish: Bun Rieu (Crab Cake Noodle Soup) & Pho Tai Nam (Rare Beef Brisket Noodle Soup) @ Pho Pasteur

The Dish: Bun Rieu & Pho Tai Nam
Where: Pho Pasteur, 525 Dundas St. W. Toronto

Pho Pasteur is a twenty-four hour Vietnamese restaurant in the heart of downtown Toronto's Chinatown that is one of the best places to get pho, a traditional Vietnamese street food and soup, in the city. Unlike many of the places we review, it also has lots of seating and excellent, very fast, table service. (It is, one must note, cash only however, so be prepared!)

There are lots of great reasons to go to Pho Pasteur, from their terrific Shrimp Rolls, to the excellent prices, to their delightful rice dishes, but there are two soups that they serve that are so good that they deserve a special mention; the Pho Tai Nam and the Bun Rieu. These keep me coming back for lunch, dinner and, were I still footloose and fancy free, they would no doubt draw me in for a late night, after the bars close, meal!

The Pho Tai Nam (number 6 on the menu) is a rare beef brisket pho with thin rice noodles. It comes in a nicely salty and seasoned broth and the beef cooks as you stir it into it. This assures that it will be tender every time. For added flavour and spice ask for a side dish of Satay Sauce to mix in. It is a quintessential pho dish and it is done perfectly. Pho Tai Nam is available in sizes from small to large, but the portions are generous and a medium will certainly satisfy most people for lunch. At $8.99, it is hard to beat.

The Bun Rieu (number 20 on the menu) is a crab soup in a spicy, partly tomato based broth with thicker vermicelli noodles. It also has shrimp, sliced pork and an array of other ingredients that give it a terrifically complex flavour where each bite is something new. It is very rich, and its generous size means that for $8.99 it is a really great deal. This is a soup that is a meal and that will warm you on a cold fall or winter's day or night and is truly among the best I have had at any restaurant, Vietnamese or otherwise.

Both dishes are served with a side plate of lime, which should be added to the soups, mint, Thai basil, hot peppers and bean sprouts. 

So next time you are in downtown T.O.. looking for a great inexpensive meal, or looking to take the edge off a long night out, maybe I'll see you there, at 3 p.m....or a.m.!

The Dish is a regular feature that will look at one dish that we particularly love at a restaurant, diner, food truck, etc. Please feel free to submit your favourite dishes from restaurants in your community. Please include a photo of the dish or establishment if at all possible.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Oxbow House Cookery Book 1977 with Fish Pie & Hockey Night Meatballs

Vintage Cookbook: The Oxbow House Cookery Book, Constance Crossley
Publication Details: Self Published, 1977

Published in 1977, the Oxbow House Cookery Book is a really perfect example of the wonderful community cookbooks that groups or individuals put together to raise money or bring people together. These were genuine labours of love, and this one is full of charm, folksy wisdom and some really great recipes.

Done of a specific style, the cookbook is entirely handwritten, and then printed from this state. It is also illustrated throughout with pages of black and white drawings of buildings, nature scenes, fishing boats and the like, as well as reprints of historic clippings. 

My copy is also inscribed in the front by Constance Crossley, the cookbook's author, and notes that it was published October 21, 1977,  thirty six years ago tomorrow, at a reception at Oxbow House, which apparently was a rustic centre and studio in Mississauga. Constance writes that the Premier of Ontario, Bill Davis at the time, sent two telegrams of good wishes and congratulations!

As always, we are including two recipes, exactly as originally presented, that reflect the overall tone, including the marvelously named Hockey Night Meatballs!

Fish Pie

25 ml butter (1 oz.)
25 ml flour (1 oz.)
250 ml milk (1 cup)
50 ml peeled shrimp or prawns
1/2 kilo cooked flaked haddock or cod
1/2 kilo cooked mashed or sliced potatoes
grated cheese and salt and pepper

Melt butter in saucepan, add flour, cook for 2 minutes. Gradually add milk, bring to boil stirring constantly for 2 minutes with reduced heat.
Add the shrimp, flaked fish, seasoning and mix well. Put into a greased ovenproof dish, cover with potatoes, then sprinkle with cheese.
Bake at 450 degrees for 20-25 minutes
Serve very hot with perhaps a side salad and upside down cake for dessert.

Hockey Night Meatballs

500 ml ground chuck (1 lb.)
5 ml salt (1 tsp)
125 ml otameal

Mix with hands and shape into balls.
Put into a little heated oil in a skillet and brown all over.

250 ml chili or catsup (1 cup)
125 ml vinegar (1/2 cup)
30 ml Worcestershire Sauce (2 ts)
10 ml mustard (2 tsp)
10 ml chili powder
2 ml garlic salt
30 ml green pepper, chopped

Combine and bring to a boil
Add 250 ml pineapple chunks drained. Cook for further 20 minutes along with the meatballs. 
Serve with noodles, French bread and red wine.

Friday, October 11, 2013

The Spice Islands Cook Book with Turkish Oranges & Hot Spiced Cider

Vintage Cookbook: The Spice Islands Cook Book, The Spice Islands Home Economics Staff

Publication Details: Published by Specialty Brands Inc., various editions 1970's

First published in the 1960's, and then reprinted over the 1970's, The Spice Islands Cook Book is a terrific volume that was meant to promote the Spice Islands brand of spices, which still exists, as well as to educate on the proper use of a variety of spices that many might not have normally used in their cuisine.

The cookbook, which was most often published in a handy pocketbook format, was divided into the standard assortment of sections (i.e. Meats, Poultry, Soups, Etc.) with the notable addition of a section devoted to spiced beverages.

But it also had sections meant to immerse the home cook in, what the first section itself called, the "Romance of Spices". To meet this aim it includes chapters devoted to the use of spices as a general idea. One of its best sections, useful today as much as it was nearly forty years ago, is the "A Guide to Your Spice Shelf" area, which is over sixty pages devoted to an alphabetical listing of spices, their histories and their best applications, that spans from Allspice to Vanilla Bean.

Also handy are the Table of Equivalents, which gives substitutions should you be missing a specific spice,  and the usage charts that point to what are the most common uses of a specific spice or seasoning.

What also makes the book standout is its quirky recipes, many of which are really unique or an interesting blend of flavours, from Calves Liver a la Johnnie May to the Hawaiian Bean Pot!

We reflect that in our two featured recipes today, the truly novel Turkish Oranges and a drink for a cold winter's day, Hot Spiced Cider . As always, these are presented as they were in the original, though in this case we have added a blog editor's note to the first.

Turkish Oranges:

An intriguing addition to a buffet, try Turkish Oranges as an opening course or tossed with romaine lettuce for a delicious salad.

6 large oranges
1/2 cup pitted ripe olives
1 tablespoon Instant Minced Onions (Editor's note: 1 small chopped onion may, and likely should be substituted for this!)
1/8 teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
2 teaspoons Beau Monde Seasoning (Editor's note: a seasoning salt may be substituted for this...or use half the amount of regular salt)
4 tablespoons White Wine Vinegar
4 tablespoons olive oil

Pare oranges with sharp knife; cut in slices and remove seeds and the white membrane from center. Cut ripe olives into wedges. Alternate layers of oranges, olives and onions in a bowl. Combine cayenne, Beau Monde, vinegar and olive oil. Stir well and pour over the oranges. Chill for an hour or so for the flavours to develop. Serve cold. Makes 6 servings.

Hot Spiced Cider:

2 quarts cider
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 whole piece Stick Cinnamon
1 teaspoon whole allspice
1 teaspoon whole cloves

Combine cider, brown sugar and salt in a saucepan. Add stick of cinnamon, allspice and cloves. Slowly bring to simmering; cover and simmer for 20 minutes. Remove spices with a slotted spoon. Serve hot. Makes 2 quarts.

The vintage version of The Spice Islands Cookbook is
relatively easy to find used on the internet. It is worth seeking out.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Bon Appetit Appleby 1977: With Carrot Bread & Easy-Life Stew

Vintage Cookbook: Bon Appetit Appleby , Appleby College Women's Association
Publication Details: Published by the college, 1977

There was (and, though sadly to a much lesser degree still is) a whole class of community cookbook that was centered around an institution of some type or another; be they schools, associations, clubs, etc...

These cookbooks were usually put together by a volunteer(s) editor with contributions from people who had ties to the institution and they were sold as a way to raise money. Over the coming weeks I want to look at a number of these, as they often provide a fascinating reflection of a time and place.

The one we are looking at today is Bon Appetit Appleby which was put together by the Appleby College Women's Association in 1977. Appleby College is a private school in Oakville, Ontario and presumably this cookbook was made to raise funds.

The cookbook was also, rather touchingly, dedicated to a Hilda Chattaway, who was the school cook and had been for 48 years! There is a tribute to her at the beginning.

The cookbook begins with a set of recipes from the school kitchen staff themselves and then proceeds through rather standard sections like Appetizers, Breads, Desserts, Mains Etc. This particular one is heavier on the baked goods than some.

The recipes are a terrific assortment of standards, through to a handful of what are really "faux" Japanese or Chinese recipes, to some fascinating traditional ones, such as a recipe for making Gravlaks. Many, as did a lot of recipes in community cookbooks in the 1970's, incorporate multiple canned elements and are meant to be tasty and easy, with names like Hamburger Pie and Frank and Bean Sandwich.

We are sharing two today, and, as always, they appear exactly as they did in the original. The second one, especially typifies a very 70's "home cooking". It is also really good!

Carrot Bread (submitted by Bonnie Peart)

2 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp. soda
2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup dried currants (optional)
1/2 cup flaked coconut
1/2 cup chopped nuts
1 cup vegetable oil
2 tsp. vanilla
2 cups grated raw carrot
3 eggs

Mix dry ingredients together. Add currants, coconut and nuts. Add remaining ingredients and mix well. Pour into 9 X 5 inch loaf pan and bake at 350 degrees for an hour or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Easy-Life Stew (submitted by Annemarie Hodge)

3 lb. lean stewing beef, cubed
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 pkg. dehydrated onion soup mix
1/2 cup dry red wine
mushrooms or potatoes (optional)

Mix meat, soup, onion soup mix and wine. Cook in covered casserole in a 300 degree oven for 3 hours. One may add mushrooms for the last half hour of cooking time or peeled, whole potatoes after the first hour. Serves 6-8

As part of a feature on That Lefty Food Blog, we will be looking at vintage cookbooks, long out-of-print, that are worth seeking out for their quirky or community sensibility. Putting together cookbooks was done by union locals, community groups, church groups and the like, and many of these are well worth remembering. Sometimes the cookbooks would try to capture a certain place or bring new types of cooking to the people. We will feature one or two recipes from each cookbook we look at.